Everything You Need to Know About The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

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You’re going on vacation to Walt Disney World! The only problem? You’re not sure which attractions are right for you and your kiddos and you have questions. Which attractions are too intense for little ones? What rides do I really need a FastPass+ reservation for? What’s the disability access like for certain attractions? We’re answering all those questions and more in our Everything You Need to Know attraction series with today’s focus on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

What is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
©Disney

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a free-fall drop ride within a story and setting inspired by The Twilight Zone television series. The premise is the Hollywood Tower Hotel was struck by lightning on October 31, 1939. A whole section of the hotel, along with an elevator carrying five individuals, plummeted and its occupants mysteriously disappeared. Guests checking into the hotel today will find the front severely scorched the from the lightning strike, as well as a dusty hotel lobby seemingly frozen in time before boarding a maintenance elevator for a trip into the Twilight Zone!

Where is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

Photo by Tom Bricker.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror sits at the end of Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It can be seen from outside the park as well.

What is the History of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror debuted on July 22, 1994 and has been one of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World ever since. In fact, the attraction inspired a 1997 film of the same name, as well as other Tower of Terror attractions at Disney Parks around the world.

The architecture of the Disney’s World Tower of Terror was inspired by several locations in Southern California, such as the Mission Inn and Biltmore Hotel. For extra authenticity, the lobby portion of the queue was decorated with items bought from Los Angeles-area auction houses. What I find even more impressive is that the attraction’s facade was designed not just for Hollywood Studios, but also for Epcot! Due to the Tower of Terror’s height, it can be seen from the Morocco Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. Therefore, the tower was given a design which blends in with the pavilion.

Through the years, the Tower of Terror has received updates including randomized drop sequences and additional visuals in show scenes. But overall, the ride experience is very much the same as when it debuted and is considered a modern classic. In fact, in recent years, the attraction has become the park’s icon in merchandise and promotional material.

What Do You Need to Know About the Queue for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The outside queue winds through the eerie, unkempt hotel gardens before entering the highly detailed, cobwebbed lobby. From here, guests are escorted into the library where lightning flashes outside the window and a black-and-white television comes to life where Rod Serling introduces the plot of today’s episode of The Twilight Zone. Afterwards, guests enter the dark boiler room to board their maintenance service elevators which serve as their ride vehicles.

What are the Ride Vehicles Like on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The elevator ride vehicle contains 21 seats with 7 guests per row. There is an aisle separating the first two rows with 4 guests on the left and 3 on the right. Each seat has a hard back and a fabric safety belt. There are handle bars bolted between each seat and on the walls of the ride vehicle.

Personally, I think the handlebars are awkward. If you want to hold on, the person next to you probably is too and they’re not exactly large enough to share. It can be awkward if you’re not sitting next to someone you know. If possible, try to snag a seat against the wall of the ride vehicle as that handlebar is guaranteed to be all yours. Also note that guests in the second two rows will have to walk up 1 or 2 steps to board.

Oh! Something else I’ve learned from experience is to keep any bags you bring on the ride securely between your feet or hold them on your lap. They will shift or even fly upwards during the drop sequences. Watching your new Loungefly backpack hover in front of your face as you drop thirteen stories is a whole other level of terror!

What Do You Need to Know About the Ride Experience on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

It’s all the name, folks. Tower of Terror can be terrifying for certain guests. Some are scared of the creepy story guests become a part of in this attraction and the fantastic, albeit scary, show scenes. There are also moments of darkness. However, since the effects and scenes are kept at arms length, I find it less scary than other attractions. In fact, since everyone knows Tower of Terror is a free-fall drop ride, I think the scariest part of the attraction is anticipating when the will drops begin!

Now Tower of Terror is more than just a free-fall drop ride that moves up and down. At one point, the elevator ride vehicle leaves the shaft and travels through a show scene! This is the Twilight Zone after all. Also, the finale of drops aren’t just free-fall plunges. The elevator ride vehicle is actually being pulled down and then back up to drop again. The drops are smooth and not at all jerky, but the patterns are randomized so you never know what you’re going to get when you enter that elevator shaft.

Finally, the Tower of Terror’s ride duration spans about 15 minutes.

What Do You Need to Know About Accessibility for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

Guests must transfer to a wheelchair or ECV and then to the ride vehicle to experience The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It’s also important to note that service animals are not permitted on this attraction.

What Do You Need to Know About the Health and Safety Advisories for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

For safety, guests should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

The only moment where guests get a glimpse at how high up they truly are is when the elevator doors open offering a view of the park from above. Guests with a fear of heights should know these moments are more of a view out of the park than a look down.

What are the Height Restrictions for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

Guests must be at least 40 in. to experience The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This attraction also offers Rider Swap.

What Do You Need to Know About FastPass+ for The Twilight Zone Tower or Terror?

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently a park in transition. Many of the park’s former attractions closed to make way for the park’s new lands and future additions. The result? Insane lines for the park’s few remaining attractions which includes Tower of Terror.

Our touring plans recommend FastPass+ for Tower of Terror more than any other attraction in the park. Why? Guests are more likely to visit other attractions first. Once everyone has ridden Slinky Dog Dash, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania, they then turn to Tower of Terror and those wait times skyrocket.

Now you need to know that Hollywood Studios has a tiered FastPass+ system. This means the park restricts the number of FastPass+ reservations guests can make for its headliner attractions. Of the three FastPass+ selections that can be made in advance for each day, a maximum of ONE can be made for an attraction in the top tier which currently includes Toy Story Mania!, Slinky Dog Dash, and Alien Swirling Saucers. However, beginning August 29, 2019, Rock n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror will be moved to this top tier.

Tower of Terror is an absolute must-do attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Still, considering the wait times for the park’s new attractions, I would save my FastPass+ reservation for one of those and resort to the Tower of Terror stand-by line for the time being.

Does Weather Affect The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The Tower of Terror attraction is completely indoors and out of the elements. However, there is a portion of the queue that’s outside and exposed to the weather.

What’s the Best Time of Day to Ride The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

If you’re not looking to ride any of the park’s new attractions, Tower of Terror should have little to no wait when the park first opens for the day. It’s your best bet to walk on the attraction and to enjoy repeat rides. The last 30 minutes of the day is also recommended.

This chart shows you roughly how long you’ll wait for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror when you visit on a day with a given Disney’s Hollywood Studios Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average “peak” wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it’s the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Wait Times.

Did I answer all of your questions about The Twilight Zone Tower or Terror? Is this attraction at the top of your family’s vacation to-do list? Let us know in the comments.

Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

3 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

  • August 4, 2019 at 5:12 pm
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    I love riding the tower of terror every time I go to Hollywood studios before I leave the park I must ride the tower of terror.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2019 at 3:11 pm
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    In the Ride Experience section, you say the “ride duration spans about 15 minutes,” which is not accurate. For touring/planning purposes, sure, I suppose that if you include the libary preshow and boiler room queue you’re looking at ~15 minutes from reaching the front of the line to getting off the elevator. However, the RIDE itself (from dispatch to unload) is about 3.5 minutes.

    *For those who want to go on the ride but are nervous/anxious about the drops*: it’s important to know that the drops are the end of the ride, and all the show scenes and visually interesting stuff comes first. You’ll enjoy the “haunted mansion lite” parts more if you’re not bracing for the drops way too soon and nervously screaming every time the elvator moves. Just know that the drops don’t start until your elevator pulls *forward* into a very dark dead end and stops. Until you reach that part, the ride is gentler than Winnie the Pooh, so try your best to relax and enjoy the scenery :-).

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 3:48 pm
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    I went today 7/7/2019 and got on the tower of terror. When we left, there was no one to buy the photo. I would like to know how I can buy it online. It was about 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. Thank you

    Reply

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